Finishing Kit

March 25, 2012 - April 15, 2012

The Map Box - page 2 - 12.0 hrs.

I'm kind of bouncing back and forth, I know, but I'm going to dedicate this page to my work on the map box, rather than show my work in chronological order, which would be chaotic and confusing. Over the last few weeks, I've been spending more time on the map box. I just want to get this project done, too. This has turned into much more time and work than I originally estimated. But it's enjoyable enough. So first, I drilled the panel a while back with the map box jig, and outlined the cutout on the panel. I spent quite a bit of time carefully cutting and filing the opening to size. I really wanted this done right. It really shows, after all. Here's the opening I cut in the panel, when I had it all finished. The holes need to be countersunk for flush rivets, too.

Once I had it right, and the edges smoothed and deburred, I clecoed the map box to the back side of the panel. Before I could install it in the plane, though, much more work needed to be done. A similar hole needs to be projected forward onto the sub-panel, and cut out as well because the box sticks through the sub-panel. And if you're building a tip-up, as I am, you also need to cut a piece off of the side rail flange (the red part below). The drawings and plans give you the dimensions and tell you how to do all of this. It's not hard. Just time consuming and somewhat tedious. Once all this cutting, fitting, and deburring is done, you can put the panel assembly back in the plane. Here it is!

Here are a couple more close-up shots, from different viewpoints. The lines you see on my red-anodized side rail are clear packaging tape that I covered the side rails with, to protect them while I do the work on the canopy and sub-panel. I'll probably leave it on during all the wiring, too.

The sub-panel is supposed to have about 1/8" clearance all around. It took numerous times of disassembling this and trimming and filing off more metal until I finally got it right.

This was a great moment, to see it all together like this. But you're not nearly finished with it yet. The plans call for these aluminum angle pieces, riveted to the sub-panel. This picture shows the two horizontal ones, on the aft side of the sub-panel. But there are also two vertical ones on the forward side. You can arrange them any way you want, but this made the most sense for me. These take a lot of time to cut, fit, drill, deburr, clean, scuff and prime, and then rivet them in place. But in the end, the whole structure is greatly strengthened. The 1/8" gap will eventually have some foam weather stripping put in place on the faces of these angles.

Here's another task that needs to be done. A stiffener is fabricated to strengthen the side rail flange where the corner has been cut off for the map box. It's amazing how time-consuming one little piece like this can be, but here's the finished job. It's all painted and riveted in place and I'm very happy to have this done. The picture above shows the rivets better, the shot below shows how it came out, all finished.

But even after all of this, you're still not finished. Next comes the door to the map box. It is carefully cut to dimensions, and deburred, corners rounded, etc. The only part of this that was frustrating, though, was trying to figure out the orientation of the hinge eyelets. Do they point down, or up? I had to figure this out on my own (they point up, by the way). And where exactly do you place the edge of the hinge? I studied the drawings, looked at other websites, and spent a lot of time trying to figure it all out. In the end, trial and error prevailed, trying it both ways to see what worked best. If it's done right, the door will open and fall open to kind of a level point as seen below and not go further. You want to check this while it's in the panel, not on the bench as seen here. This shot is mainly to show you the finished product, after all the work I did. Note that the door is riveted in place with flush rivets, and primed and painted with my interior topcoat so it matches the interior paint and looks nice when it's open. You won't see these ugly flanges, they'll be riveted to the back side of the panel.

Here's what it looks like closed, so you can see that the hinge ends up being partially visible. Note the nice flush rivets!

Again, if you want it to fit right, you must do the final fitting on the panel. If it's off even a little bit, as to the exact placement of the hinge before you drill the holes, the door will sit cockeyed and not nice and flush as seen here. It took a lot of fiddling to get it to fit just right, and for the open door to sit level when open, before final drilling and riveting the hinge in place.

Here's another shot from an angle. The map box comes with a nice latch to open and close the door. But I'm not going to drill out the hole to the larger size for the latch until the whole thing is riveted to the panel. Any tiny movements caused by final riveting might mess up the alignment of the holes and I don't want to risk drilling it right now. I'll do the final drilling and reaming to full size later on when I have the box riveted in place. I'm not going to rivet the box to the panel until all the holes and openings in the panel are cut and drilled out. I don't want to have this box being dragged around during all of that cutting work. I think it will be nice to have it out of the way for all the wiring work, too.

So for now anyway, I'm finished working on the map box! And I'm very pleased to have it done. I discovered that a lot of guys don't bother with a map box. But I want one. And not necessarily for maps. Can you imagine your car without a glove box? I figure that if I ever want to expand my panel and I need this space, I can always get rid of it. In the meantime, though, for a traveling RV, this storage space will come in very handy.

<< Previous | Home | Next >>

Contact me: swayze "at" (replace "at" with the @ sign... no spaces... you know the deal)